Guitar With Hot-Swappable Pickups Lights Our Fire

There’s a story that goes something like this: Chet Atkins was playing his guitar when someone remarked, ‘that guitar sounds great!’ Mr. Atkins immediately stopped playing and asked, ‘how does it sound now?’ While it’s true that the sound ultimately comes from you and your attention to expression, we feel that different pickups on the same guitar can sound, well, different from each other.

However, this is merely speculation on our part, because changing pickups is pretty serious surgery, and there’s only one company out there making guitars with hot-swappable pickups. Since their low-end model is out of most people’s price range, [Mike Lyons] took one for the team and decided to build a guitar from scratch to test out various pickups of any size, from lipstick to humbucker. [Mike] can swap them out in under a minute, and doesn’t need any tools to do it.

[Mike] modeled the swapping system on that one company’s way of doing things, because why reinvent the wheel? The pickups are inserted through the back and held in place with magnets and a pair of cleverly-designed printed pieces — one to mount the pickup to, and the other inside the pickup cavity.

As far as actually connecting the things up, [Mike] went with a commercially-available quick-connect pickup solution that uses a mini four-conductor audio plug and jack. The body is based on the Telecaster, while the headstock is more Stratocaster — the perfect visual combination, if you ask us.

We are particularly fond of [Mike]’s list of caveats for this project, especially the requirement that it had to be built using only hand tools and a 3D printer. Although a drill press would have been nice to use, [Mike] did a fantastic job on this guitar. Whether you’re into guitars or not, this is a great story of an awesome build.

What, you don’t even have hand tools? You could just print the whole guitar instead.

17 thoughts on “Guitar With Hot-Swappable Pickups Lights Our Fire

        1. Chet Atkins could make music strumming a broom. What’s cool about his playing was that he did incredibly difficult runs that you’d only know were hard if you were a player yourself. He was just relaxed and smiling the whole time. It was the players in the crowd that were picking up their jaws off the floor.

  1. I actually also made my own hot swap guitar a few months ago using a laser cutter. Mine has three slots instead of two and the slots include electrical contacts so I can do a swap in under 5 seconds. I also based mine on a strat rather than a tele.

    Check it out:

  2. Time ago I created a nylong string guitar on which you could interchange the bridge in the same way that electric guitar. The pickup was a piezopickup inside the bridge. So I can change the piezo sensor model without removing strings.

  3. Using magnets to hold magnets is really a bad idea. Also unmaginitive use a plugin and play pickup. Whats the point gibson already made a pcb and plug in ability to go soderless. Just think about this. The magnetic fields of the pickups is what give the sound its color. The reason a tele sounds twangy and the reason why a strat sounds chimey they type of magnet used might not like or get along with let’s say neodymium because its field will weaken the Alinco type magnetic poll. people to this day still hunt down oil and paper siods and gemanium diodes chasing that tone. Ask joe bonamassa if modern is better ask any tone chaser which wiring he has in his les paul and you will find cloth hand wired pickups like grandpa and great grandpa use to make, guitars made by know how and feel not by cnc machine or printed out like storm troopers, but by true masters of the craft held tonight tolerances unequaled to this day by men and women from amps to guitars to pedals. Moderization works for some but but Not All things especially in the music industry. Leo, Les, mr Hall, Keith, jimmy, Eric, mr gilmour, mr page, mr muddywaters, mr howlen wolf, mr chess, muscle shoals, Fullerton California, Kalamazoo Michigan, Santa Anna California is the way. Everything else is just a clone or a gimmick. Just like this really bad idea.

    1. You’re right. Gibson, and at least a half dozen others in recent times alone. Swappable pickups is in no way a new idea. Somnium and Gyrock by Wild Customs are two companies that have been producing extremely over engineered and overpriced guitars with “modular”, swappable pickup systems for several years. However, in practice, it’s really not as convenient or useful as it first seems, no matter how quick the changes are. Besides; technology has far surpassed this old idea. We have had modeling guitars and synth guitars for decades with the ability to sound like anything from a toilet flushing to your mother-in-law snoring in your guest room and everything in between.

  4. “Hot swap”

    So the pickups can be changed whilst the guitar is plugged into the amp, everything is live and nothing untowards happens, not even an horrid noise from the speakers?

  5. OR…. you could just have another guitar to grab that is configured to deliver the sound you want without the inevitable amp hum ground loop blowout feedback you’re gonna get when aligning whatever contacts this uses mucking around under the strings.

  6. Very similar pickup swapping thing was done about 30 some years ago by a company called Player (not JB Player) and created by Al DiMeola’s guitar tech. Used various Dimarzio pickups and you could load modules with whatever you liked as well. Cool idea that didn’t take off at the time.

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